Vancouver Olympics broke even
Despite some challenging circumstances, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver broke even, VANOC CEO John Furlong confirmed on Friday morning in Vancouver.
Games officials said the $1.9-billion operating budget resulted in neither a surplus nor a deficit and the $603-million venue development program also came in on budget.
“We made a promise and we repeated it many times that we would not leave behind a bad result and we would not leave behind an unpleasant financial surprise at end of the Games, and it was our priority all through those years to keep our word and live up to that promise,” said Furlong.
He said there were several challenges to balancing the operating budget for the Games, including the global financial crisis which cut corporate sponsorships, and an unseasonably warm stretch of weather that forced organizers to dump snow into one of the ski venues from helicopters.
He said the organizing committee has dealt with more difficult circumstances than “most committees have had to deal with in the past.
“We built the venues in the most heated construction economy we have ever seen here. And then we brought the Games through the finish line through an economy that no one in the room has ever seen a worse one in their lifetime,” he said.
Furlong said if the Games had failed to generate as much money from corporate and government sources, VANOC would have cut costs even further in order to balance its books.
“We chopped hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the project. It was very hard on morale for the team, but we did what we had to,” he said.
The provincial and federal governments ended up contributing about $187 million to the operating budget, but Furlong said he was proud that 91 per cent of the cost of operating the Games still ended up coming from non-government sources.
Governments contributed $187M
VANOC’s $1.9-billion operating budget was used to cover the cost of running the Games, but that figure does not include the billions spent to build the venues, the Olympic Village, the Canada Line rapid transit line and the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrade, and to provide security.
Those infrastructure costs, which totalled roughly $5 billion, were paid for by the federal, provincial and municipal governments,
Furlong said much of the the government money in the operating budget was used to target key areas such as the cross-Canada torch relay and the Paralympic Games, and “take them to a new level.”
“It was the torch relay that gave every Canadian their connection to the Games,” said Furlong, while government money was used to support the Paralympics after those games failed to attract as much sponsorship as the Olympics.
Two other reports released by the provincial and federal governments earlier on Friday said the 2010 Olympics created more than 45,000 jobs and generated as much as $2.5 billion in real gross domestic product.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers conducted the studies, which looked at the impact the 2010 Games had on the province and on the country, finding they increased tourism spending by almost $500 million.
“Canada’s tourism brand is now No. 1 in the world,” said Furlong, crediting the exposure the Games gave the country internationally.
When asked about key memories from the Games, Furlong cited the commitment of volunteers and the closing ceremony, which included a humorous response to the failure of one of the arms of the torch to rise from the floor during the opening ceremony.